I've been reading about the idea of flywheels in business and have been thinking of how they apply to creative work. 

There's a flywheel on our old Hattersley loom. It takes a little effort to get it going, but once it is going, it stores the momentum you create. You don't start each pedal from nothing. 

 One thread at a time, the cloth grows. Moving the going part of the loom takes less effort.

 Writing can be hard. You have a clear goal, a finished piece of work you want to create. But it can be overwhelming to think of the whole picture at times. Novels are big. A hundred thousand words. If I was capable of great deeds... but I'm just a hobbit, you say to yourself.

 How to get the flywheel going. 

 James Clear's book 'Atomic Habits' has been helpful for me in shifting away from emphasising goals, to emphasising systems of habits. Goals are obviously necessary. You need to know where you're going. But putting a system in place like 'I'm going to write a hundred words at lunch every day' soon compounds. Graham Greene would write about five hundred words a day, which meant he would finished a novel in a year. Steven King aims for 2000. 

 When writing a novel, I aim for a certain word count per day, every week day. I have to stay at the desk until that's finished. Some days I'm finished early. Some days, very much not. 

Similar to recursive thinking in computing, break the problem down into smaller similar problems. 

 A small daily goal, which allows you to schedule it over a period of time, little by little you see your story grow. You're able to capture your momentum. Before you know it, your writing is a habit. Try and establish a habit, no matter how small.

 In the same way that money compounds, knowledge and work can compound. Small strokes fell great oaks, as Benjamin Franklin said. 

Iain F Macleod's Blog


James Clear writes a very popular newsletter and his book Atomic Habits (affiliate link) is very good indeed.

Nathan Barry, creator of ConvertKit, has written some good articles about flywheels. Mainly in the context of creators growing their businesses.




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